Race, ethnicity and crime
Race, ethnicity and crime

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Race, ethnicity and crime

Case study: Racial disproportion in the US

Deborah Peterson Small is Executive Director of Break the Chains, a small non-profit advocacy organisation working towards the reform of drug policy in the US. In this short video clip, she discusses the greater probability of a Black or Latino person being arrested for a drug-related offence than a White person, despite the fact that the different ethnic groups consume and trade in drugs at comparable rates. She unpacks the consequences of this disproportionate likelihood of being drawn into the criminal justice system both on individuals, and their families and communities.

Watch the video below now.

Download this video clip.Video player: Racial disproportion in the US
Skip transcript: Racial disproportion in the US

Transcript: Racial disproportion in the US

Deborah Peterson Small
… Just this week, Human Rights Watch issued a report about racial disparities in drug arrest. And, basically, the report showed that for the last 27 years – since 1980 – the rate of Black arrests has been disproportionately higher than White arrests for drugs, ranging from 2.7 times more likely to the current average of more than five or six times more likely. And if you go from arrest to imprisonment, you know, for the past 20 years we’ve enforced a policy that results in Black people being ten times more likely to end up in prison for a drug offence than White people, even though we use drugs, and sell drugs, at the same comparable rates. And, to me, the harms are so duplicate – there’s so many – it has a lot to do with economic opportunity. A lot of the people who – especially who are young, who are selling drugs and doing it because those were the only jobs that they can get, once you’ve been convicted of a drug offence you no longer can get any other job, even if you get out of prison, you know, you’re banned from other jobs, you’re not able to get access to education, so you’re basically stigmatised for life. We have thousands of Black and Latino men, who have basically been pushed out of society – permanently – as a result of their involvement in drugs, which means that they’re not able to be good fathers to their children, to be good partners to the women and the mothers, the people in their lives. It means that the kids don’t benefit from having that, the women don’t have the kind of support that they would need, you know, it – the ripple effect across the community is rampant. But to me the most long term negative effect of the ‘War on Drugs’ is the fact that it’s created a perception in the public that the average Black man is a drug user, or a drug seller, either currently involved in criminal activity or will be involved in criminal activity. Unless they have the clean-cut look of an Obama, they’re assumed to be criminal. And that assumption, that starts early on when they are still in school, creates a set of circumstances that almost determines the reality. And I’ve seen so many young men who’ve ended up in a path that they wouldn’t have been on if they weren’t constantly being reminded by policing practices, by school disciplinary policies etc. that people think they’re bad. You know, and so to me, that is one of the most negative, you know, both immediate and long term consequences that I’ve seen of what we’ve been doing.
End transcript: Racial disproportion in the US
Racial disproportion in the US
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
D867_2

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371